A space to transition from the streets to the home

Sister Deodata helps young, vulnerable girls to rebuild their lives in a reception centre after being subject to trauma in the streets.

UNICEF DRC
Soeur Deodata écoute attentivement une fille.
UNICEF DRC Tremeau
17 August 2022

In a cosy and friendly space, Sister Deodata listens attentively to Julie, who confides in the Sister. The young girl, who is 15 years old today, was left to fend for herself in the streets of Goma when she was only 12 years old. Julie did her best to survive. “I did what I had to in order to find something to eat,” she says sadly while admitting that she resorted to sex work.

Une fille en train de réfléchir.
UNICEF DRC Tremeau

For around two years, Julie was subject to multiple assaults and sexual abuse. One day, someone stabbed one of her friends to death after raping her. “That girl could have been me,” reflects Julie, who then decided to go to the centre managed by Sister Deodata. It has been more than seven months that Julie joined the centre, and she is determined to write a new chapter of her life.

Des jeunes mangent.
UNICEF DRC Tremeau

Located in the city of Goma in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the centre supervises young, vulnerable girls who find themselves in the streets. With the support of UNICEF, these girls find a familial atmosphere in the centre and are accompanied as they rebuild their lives.

Une fille réfléchie.
UNICEF DRC Tremeau

Young girls living in the streets are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and to sexual abuse. Cynthia, 15 years old, explains that her first day in the street was also the first day of her ordeal. “When I had to buy shoes, I had to meet up to five men in a day,” she says.

Des fournitures scolaires.
UNICEF DRC Tremeau

It has been four months since Cynthia went to the centre, where she can participate in manual work or in games, benefit from programmes to catch up with school, and be introduced to different professions. “I want to become a doctor to help people to get better,” Cynthia says with determination.

Des jeunes mangent.
UNICEF DRC Tremeau

Since 2008, more than 1,000 young girls have been accompanied at the Talithakhoum centre with the support of UNICEF. Everything has been put in place so that these girls rediscover a sense of normality in their life, and that they can be reintegrated in their families.

Une jeune fille enceinte.
UNICEF DRC Tremeau

 “When I arrived at the centre, I was tired and vomiting, and I realise I was pregnant,” explains Marceline, 15 years old. She stays at the centre for three months before returning to her family. “No matter what difficulties I encounter, I will not return to the streets,” says Marceline, who knows all the dangers of the streets.